tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 18, 2014 3:00am-5:01am EDT
then indiana university president. "washington journal" is live morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. and you can join the facebook andon twitter. presidentng ukrainian speaks a session of congress. liveou see his remarks from the floor of the house starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span. c-span cities tour takes book tv and american history tv on the road, traveling to u.s. to learn about their history and literary life. this weekend we partnered with for a visit to st. paul, minnesota. >> st. paul in the 1930's, i it las vegas, but it was a very lively city. because the gangsters brought their gun molls. during prohibition you had the theest jazz artists of
decades here in st. paul. so it was a very, very lively place, partially because the gangsters were welcome here. virtually every major gangster, kidnapper and bank robber in within lived and worked a three-block radius of where we're standing today. dillinger, baby face nelson, alvin creepy carpas, all were here. people don know that. there's no statues of these gangsters, but this was the in theer of 1930's crime era of john dillinger. the f.b.i. with jay edgar hoover had this building as their headquarters. also the building where all of those bootleggers and bank robbers were tried and to alcatraz, leavenworth prison, and other prisons across america. where it began, and where it ended. at historicng here fort snelling, looking over the
junction of the minnesota and rivers.issippi st. paul is located up the mississippi river from fort snelling. here before the city was. the fort is intimately connected st. paul.ation of in the 1830's, there were groups of settlers that were living on the military's property. finally the army had had enough forompeting with them resources and they felt that they should be removed officially from the military property. settlers then move across the river to the other side and formed what became the nucleus of the city of st. paul. when you think about the history this region, you think beyond snelling, andort that's what we try to do here is push people to think more about all theseit mean when cultures came together. what perspectives do they have events.these >> watch all of our event from st. paul saturday at noon tvtern on c-span 2's book and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on
american history tv on c-span 3. >> hearing on the threats faced by toughs from isis and other groups.t securityere homeland secretary jeh johnson, fib comey and counterthe terrorism center directer matthew olsen. half hours.and a -- this is two and a half hours. >> the committee on homeland security will come to order. the committee is meeting to examine worldwide threats to the security of the homeland. before we begin today, i would like to remind our guests that demonstrations from the audience, including the use of signs and placards, as was verbal outbursts, or a violation
of the rules of the house trade i would like to thank our guests for their cooperation and a quorum. i now recognize myself of the opening statement. secretary johnson, director olson, we have asked you to come before the committee to discuss the array of threats facing the u.s. homeland. the chief concern of ours is the proliferation of terrorist safe havens around the world. the 9/11 commission's number one recommendation was to use all elements of national power to deny sanctuary to terrorist groups. have seen safe havens spread with alarming speed. such territory makes it far easier for terrorist groups to train recruits and hatch plots. , nong this administration lesson three extremist sanctuaries have emerged or expanded in syria, iraq, and libya.
as thehanistan administration goes forward with the plans to withdraw our troops , we might see terrorists reclaiming the territory from which they planned 9/11. our obvious and most immediate concern is the islamic state of iraq and syria, or ices. i agree with the president that this group does not represent a legitimate state. butchersher a cabal of committing a violent and perverted brand of islam. it should never have been taken -- have taken the beheading of two americans for our government to wake up the american people to this menace. months known for many that isis was surging and represented one of the top rest of the united states. the white house did it without taking action and the president
play down the danger. despite recent united states strikes against the group, isis still holds thousands of square miles of territory where they are able to operate their terrorist army. we seen estimates that indicate that they may have up to 30,000 fighters. 2000 fighters or so are americans and europeans. these radicalized westerners represent an exceptionally grave threat to the u.s. am slammed -- homeland because of their training comics in his connections, ease of travel, and the west.nowledge of today we expect to hear about the administration strategy to detect, deter, and disrupt these foreign fighters. clear, our nation is at war with this group. the twisted ideology it is seeking to express. we must consider all instruments of national power to roll back
and defeat them now. not take the fight to the enemy overseas, we risk fighting them here at home. -- military efforts much must include airstrikes in syria. top military advisor to the president, including the chairman of the joint chiefs, general martin dempsey, have it safedebate isis haven in syria must be destroyed. i agree with them. i hope the president is taking the advice of his top commanders and generals in the pentagon. isis is not the only threat we face. i hope we hear today how your agencies are working together to address the wider danger from violent islamic extremism here at home and abroad. the white house has presented a false narrative in recent years about the threat. they claim that al qaeda was on its heels, on the path the
defeat. in reality, al qaeda networks have grown and materialized into a deadly global franchise with a spider web of affiliates and ideologically similar groups attempting to build the power vacuums across the middle east, africa, and southeast asia. the ideological struggle against violent, islamic extremists is taking place not just overseas, but also here at home. than 70ve been more homegrown violent jihadist plots or attacks in the united states and's 9/11. according to the congressional research group service. more than two thirds of them have been uncovered or have taken place in the past five years. many of the suspects were islamistsd by online propaganda, including the boston marathon bombings and the fort hood attacker. these are the tools that isis excels at utilizing. federal authorities indicted
just yesterday a u.s. citizen money,chester for rising recruiting, and for zoning training for ices. while the united states continues to battle threats posed by terrorist organizations, we must also be vigilant to protect the homeland against asymmetric threats like cyberattacks from states and nonstate actors. president obama recently noted that the cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. that, many experts believe the nation is woefully unprepared to protect itself in this domain. in a recent report from the bipartisan policy center 9/11 commissioners, describing cyber preparedness as pre-september 11 levels. last month, the defense secretary hagel said the world is exploding all over. i agree with him.
we afford to the testimony today surveying the threat landscape and elaborating on how we are countering those set against us and our interests. before i turn it over to the ranking member, i would like to note that this is his first time as the fbi director -- that the fbi director has appeared before this committee. sir, we have adjacent presence here today. that the members be cordial to him so that we could have his return appearance before the committee. additionally, this is likely one of the last congressional appearances for matt olson. he has announced his retirement. we thank you for your service over the years, 25 years of service to the government. we appreciate you being here and everything you have done to protect americans here in the homeland. it has been a real honor to work with you. secretary johnson, you have been
on the job for nine months. i appreciate your good work and outstanding relationships we have built over those years -- months that you have taken office look forward to having you appear before this committee again. thank you for your -- i was in new york yesterday and secretary johnson was leading the governors of new york and new jersey, the fbi, the cvt, homeland security officials in such a professional manner. it was really refreshing to see that kind of leadership coming from our department on a very serious topic. thank you for your leadership, sir. with that, the chair recognizes the ranking member. >> thank you. holding this very important hearing. we are fortunate to have an exceptionally accomplished and
knowledgeable panel of witnesses to discuss the current threat. secretary johnson, welcome back. -- offered useful informative testimony, and expected date to be in a different. a great pleasure to have the bureau could just make in today's discussion. as the chairman has said, this is the fbi's maiden voyage before this committee. we look forward to your testimony. i hope that it will not be your last. we will work on that. olson, your years of service , the chairman has artie spoken to, thank you for all your contributions you have made. --m certain the fraser future is still very bright for you. thank you very much. i wish you the best. mr. chairman, 13 years ago this
week, just days after the horrific september 11 said -- terrorist attack, george w. bush addressed the commerce in the nation. in his address, president bush stated that our work on terror begins with al qaeda and it will not in and tell every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated. 13 years later, there's been some success out of digger against core al qaeda, but not all terrorists groups have been found, stopped, and if needed. those who were in the audience when president bush delivered his address could not have predicted how this terrorist threat would evolve. at this time, congress was completely focused on preventing another large-scale attack on u.s. soil. in 2001, we understood updated to be a centralized organization. little thought was given to the prospect that al qaeda would
franchise terrorism and inspire satellite groups. the prospect that an attack would be carried out by a loan will actor -- lone wolf actor. -- it was barely in the discussion. we were focused on those groups taking human lives. we did not predict that in the decade after september 11 state actors or terrorist groups would andto devastate our economy still viable intellectual property by targeting our cyber infrastructure. finally, we could not have imagined that on the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11, another american president would become before the american people to make a case for defeating and destroying a terrorist organization. indeed, the threat from the islamic state of iraq and syria is legitimate and warrants
attention. that said, the situation on the ground in syria is fluid and complex. defeating and destroying i saw -- isis is a no easy task. i cannot express enough the need for vigilance and care, particularly issues where we decide to partner with try andals on syria to beat ices. in addition, we need to remain vigilant and improve our preparedness and resilience at home. last month's arrest of don morgan illustrates my long-standing there that we must reject specific at the religious profiles of would-be terrorists. violent extremism has the race, ethnicity and religion, or culture, and there is no single profile or pathway for individuals who, to embrace
violent extremism. since september 11, state and local law enforcement have received grant funding from the federal government to prepare and prevent terrorist activities. we saw the value of this grant --ding after the bombing of at last year's boston marathon. as the police were protective gear and stabilized the situation. more recently, there was an example of what i believe to be an improper use of federal equipment and ferguson, missouri. better oversight and tighter those resources are used by state and local partners is one area that needs to be improved. another area that is a perennial challenge to information sharing with state and local law enforcement, even with fusion centers and joint terrorist acts forces, especially after
september 11, we see that information sharing can be improved, given threats from ices, al qaeda, and lone wolf actors. the 13 years of september 11 -- since september 11 has showed us that we cannot have a myopic view of terrorist threats. it is my hope that today we engage in a productive dialogue about the variety of threats to our nation. thank you. i yield back. >> i think the ranking member. opening statements may be cemented for the record. we are pleased to have here a distinct panel of witnesses before us. ,irst, secretary jeh johnson sworn in december 23, 2013. secretary of the department of homeland security. secretary johnson served as
general counsel, where he was part of the senior management team and lead more than 10,000 military and civilian thought that lawyers. he also oversaw the development of legal access for many of our nations counter terrorism policies and spearheaded reforms to military commissions at what tom abate in 2009. -- at guantanamo bay in 2009. james cohn became the seventh director of the federal bureau of investigation in september of 2013. it has a long history of service to the department. it includes holding positions as both the assistant u.s. attorney and u.s. attorney to the district of new york and assistant u.s. attorney to the eastern district of virginia when he was conducting project exile. i want to thank you for your efforts on that. a deputy attorney
general at the justice department. prior to his appointment, he held senior positions at lockheed martin and bridgewater associates. again, thank you for being here. last but not least, this is his last appearance before this committee, but i'm sure we will hear from him more times after this. director matthew olson has served as director of the national counterterrorism center since august of 2011. as a to joining, he served general counsel for the national security agency, where he was the chief legal officer for nsa, and the present legal advisor to the nsa director. he has a long record of service that includes time spent at the fbi with the department of justice and at the guantánamo review task force. again, we thank you for your service come as her. the full written statements of these witnesses will appear in the record. the chair now recognizes the secretary of homeland security for his opening statement.
>> thank you, chairman. ranking member thompson. the committee has my prepared opening days of -- opening statement. i will not read it. , i will moments here mention a couple of things good one, thank you for this holding this hearing. it is important. of publicst the type opportunity from congressional oversight of our counterterrorism efforts that i welcome. this will not be my last appearance here. it is not my first. i want to say thank you to my friends and colleagues to my left and right for joining me. the director and i have known each other for 25 years when we were's assistant u.s. attorneys together. -- 19 88 and 1998 1989 did i have known him a very long time.
mr. olson i've known for six years now, going back to late 2008, early 2009. i hired matt to be general counsel of nsa, along with general alexander, we hired him to be general counsel of nsa could he did a terrific job there. he has been a terrific colleague in the national security counterterrorism world. i and others will miss him very much. clarity ofs his delivery, interns of his intelligence assessments. i mention my personal relationships with these two gentlemen to highlight the fact that homeland security, law enforcement, and the intelligence community have a very good working relationship in dealing with counterterrorism matters. we are committed to working together on these issues. we are committed to information
sharing. are we committed to a collegiality. we encourage that among our staff. director and i met with other members of the national security team in a periodic meeting to discuss national security topics. we do this often. the other point i would like to that isis isn, is the most prominent terrorist organization on the world stage right now. it is our focus. from my homeland security perspective, we have to stay focused on a range of terrorist threats. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, for example. they are still active. there are other threats. they emanate from that region and other parts of the world that we and homeland security and national security have domain -- remain focused on. we have taken another steps in recent months to a dress aviation security. for example, you are aware of the enhances that i directed in july and august.
we are addressing the issue of foreign fighters in and out of syria, which i'm sure we will ,iscuss this morning as well as for example, enhanced countering violent extremism efforts here at home through various outreach programs that we have, including the pilot program the attorney general announced earlier this week. we are doing a number of things that will be -- we will be pleased to discuss with you at this morning's hearing. i look forward to your questions. thank you again for holding this hearing. >> i thank you. now recognizes the director for his testimony. >> thank you. it is a pleasure to be before you first time. and to be joined by my friends. to matt also, the american people will never fully know how much he has none to keep them safe. a lot of people in this room know and will be forever grateful. waschairman, as you know i
in government for almost a decade. that is why i may have a different perspective grid when i came back to government a year ago. i discovered that the threat had changed in two ways first, thanks largely to our minimum women in uniform, we have taken the fight to the core al qaeda tumor in the afghanistan passion -- pakistan region. at the same time, we have experienced a metathesis of the cancer. haverogeny of al qaeda sprung up and ungoverned spaces in north africa, the gulf, the mediterranean come in ways that are familiar to this committee. andmanifestation in syria iraq is obviously huge example of that metastasis. that metastasis, coupled with the phenomenon of travelers seeking to go to the safe havens to get the experience of being a terrorist, to make those connections, is a way in which that change strikes me. i am very concerned about the going.
i'm even more concerned about the coming. there will be a terrorist diaspora out of those areas, especially syria, that we wake up everyday worrying about. the second way in which the terrorism that has changed ask on with the way the internet has changed all of our lives. someone can do it in their pajamas in their basement. these are the home run, violent extremist that we worry about. they get all the poison they need and the training they need to kill americans and away that is very hard for us to spot between the time they emerge from their basement and maybe kill innocent americans. those are the two ways in which i have seen the terrorism threat changed significantly since i was last in government. secretary johnson mention cyber. all of us have connected our entire life to the internet. that is where our children play. that is where we bank. that is where my health care is. that is where a grid going for structure is very that is where
our nation secrets are. people want to hurt my kids. they want to still my enemy. they want to damage our infrastructure. they will distill a secret. that is when a company to be effective, all of us need to be able to address the threats in cyberspace. i think that making sure the abf the fbi's position to do that will dominate the years i have left in my term. it is an honor to be here to represent the people of the fbi. i believe i have the greatest job in the world. it is a pleasure to be back in public service. thank you. >> thank you. and certainly a pleasure to have you here today as well. i forgot that we share the fact that we both have children on social media, which can also be challenging at times. the chair now recognizes director olson. >> thank you grandma could good morning. thank you for inviting me. closed, meet in classified sessions. this is a really important opportunity for us to speak to the committee in an open session
at the american people about the threats we face. i also want to say to you thank , we appreciate the committee support in our efforts. i was bent at the couple of minutes talking about the threat and then take a moment about how the threat that's into the broader terrorism landscape that we see. isilt, by every measure, has emerged as a dangerous organization. they have exploited the civil war in, taken advantage of secretary and tensions in iraq. to a trench itself in both countries. -- thankssh sankar it raisin rock in syria. -- to establish sanctuaries in iraq and syria.
it uses a makes of techniques from terrorist operations, hit-and-run tactics, to paramilitary salts. -- results. itselfup is itself -- is as a leader of a global jihadist movement. it operates the most sophisticated propaganda machine of any terrorist organization. it turns out timely, high-quality media. it uses social media to secure a widespread following. isil has asree that many as 30,000 fighters. aom this position, they pose multifaceted threat to the united states. this past january, the leader of the u.s. willat be in direct conflict with the group. there is little group that isil is is the strategic enemy. this threat is most acute in iraq. the group safe haven and
resources in iraq pose an immediate and direct threat to our presence there, particularly our embassy in baghdad. to thoseat includes americans held hostage by isil. potential to use it safe havens to planning chordate attacks closer to europe, and potentially the united states. this threat became real earlier this year with the shooting at a brussels museum that killed four people. then with the arrest we saw in france of an isil operative. at this point, we have no information that isil is plotting an attack in the united states. what we do know, as my colleague , thousands of foreign fighters have crossed into syria over the past three years. this includes more than 2000 europeans and more than 100 americans. many of these fighters that have flocked to syria have flocked to
isil's ranks. we are worried that they will gain training and return to their own countries. some possessing western passports and travel document straight we are also concerned about the policy that positive on growing extremism based on information on the internet. secondly, this phenomenon, the , and thesil translation of the terrorism threat. we have seen this movement diversify and expand in the aftermath of the up people and upheaval. isil is just one of the groups we are concerned about. al qaeda core continues to support attacks in the west and is the leader of a global jihadist movement. in syria, we have seen veteran al qaeda fighters travel from past that pakistan.
branches infficial yemen and somalia continue to remain active. in the arabian peninsula has tried to take in a plane down three times. and the boston marathon is a sober reminder of the threats from self-directed extremist. the terrorist networks that exploded -- exploited the lack of government means they are now active in 11 insurgencies in the islamic world. identifying and disrupting this threat is increasingly challenging. the groups are adapting. are the trying to avoid fences and intelligence efforts. finally, this closure of the stolen nsa documents, terrorists
are changing how they communicate. they are moving to more secure platforms for they are adopting encryption. avoiding communication altogether. we are seeing this. this is a problem for us in many areas where we have limited human collection and depend on intercept this communication to identify terrorist threats and disrupt plots. threat, the men and women remain vigilant around the clock. we are dedicated to working with our counterterrorism partners at ,he fbi to identify the threats degrade networks, and disrupt both at home and abroad. we appreciate the committees continued support and thank you for this opportunity. i look for dear questions progress thank you, director. i know recognize myself for questions. >> we mentioned that there is no specific credible threat to the homeland. having said that, i don't think i have seen a threat environment any higher.
as it exists overseas. with the spread of the so-called --amic state in the labonte labonte. worker, ittish a really got the attention of the american people as to what kind of evil we are dealing with. changed popular opinion in terms of driving policy to eliminate a threat that they don't want to see here in united states. ofpetrating those acts brutal savagery. at the same time you have core al qaeda in what appears to be a competition now with isis. to see who is the true heir apparent to bin laden. it is a dangerous competition. therey i see it is that is no better way to do that than attack the west. 30,000 of these isis fighters,
15,000 of foreign fighters. , u.s.00 americans citizens. many of these fighters have western passports. the ease to travel back and forth obviously concerns homeland security officials and the intelligence community and the fbi. so, first i want to congratulate the fbi on the half a dozen or so arrests that have been made, including two in my backyard. individuals traveling, wanting to travel to syria, or those who may have come back who could have pulled off a terrorist attack. you stop that. at the same time, i mixed concern that the is something we don't know. ofon't know what our level evidence is as to who is on the ground in both united states and syria that could imply future attacks in the nine states. wequestion to the panel --
have seen the florida gentlemen, went to syria, came back. he did lead united states and come back virtually undetected. that is the kind of profile that i am concerned about them want to stop your what assurances can you give this committee that we will be able to stop that type of foreign traveler, foreign fighter from coming back as a train jihadist and killing americans. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it is something that the people of this table and the thousands of people we represent work on yesterday -- every day. we try to use our resources here and abroad to try to identify those who want to travel. our first mission is to identify them and lock them up before they want to go. if they go, we try to keep very close tabs on them. we will interdict them overseas
for that is our preference. or we can mock them up when they arrive. very difficult, as you alluded to. we have in a norma's, wonderful, free country. there are thousands of wasted get the united states to syria. of thousands of americans who travel for legitimate purposes every day. sorting among that group to find the bad guys is something that we spent every single day focused on. we've had good success, but i'm not overconfident even the nature of the challenge. chairman, -- the question of our degree of confidence is one that the three of us talk about. my impression is that from the information that we know, and the systems that we have in place to track those who attempted travel to syria, from
that i think we have a reasonable degree of competence. not a high degree of competence, but a reasonable degree. we know the numbers, and we know who is attempting to travel, and the fbi has done a very good job investigating, arresting, and prosecuting those attempting to leave the country. as you mentioned, there was another arrest yesterday. we are enhancing our ability to share information in the national security committee of the u.s. government and with our allies. we are evaluating ways to potentially limit the travel of those who want to leave this country to go to syria and pickup the fight. that is something we are in the midst of doing right now. as i think you know, we have been focused on the issue of foreign fighters for some food of months. in february, i said that syria
had become a matter of homeland security, because of this issue of foreign fighters. , interdicting the travel of those who might want to leave this country and go there is an area of top concern right now. the greatests threat to homeland. i know you one of the first to say that read i appreciate that. >> i would just add that this is an effort that begins with good intelligence. the better intelligence that we can get at who is traveling into syria, who is seeking to leave syria, the better position we will be to apply the various multiple layers of screening that are available to prevent those travelers from injuring into the united states. -- entering into the united states. one area's we have been focused on for many months, the area most encouraged by recently as the level attention that this is getting with our allies in europe.
we have been able to work with them and share information to interdict individuals seeking to travel. on the otherto hit threat that is within the homeland. this idea of home-grown, von extremism. radicalization from within. there are two very glossy publications. one is inspire magazine, which is, with the recent addition, page after page of to make bombs. this one from eisen street a very glossy -- this one from isis. one that is used and radicalizing american the united states. not only to bring them to syria, they are also trying to pull off
an act of terrorism in the united states. they are already here. know that the attorney general had a reason announcement on this. what the fbi and homeland security is doing to violentthis home-grown, extremist. ? >> german, the department of homeland security for some time forhas had programs outreach into communities in the united states that themselves have a capacity to reach those that might turn to violence. we have recently taken that program and put it into a separate office which reports directly to the deputy secretary and me to enhance its visibility and establish it as a priority.
our outreach people are all over the country in various different programs. i have personally participated in these outreach programs. i did one in suburban chicago earlier this year, where there is a community. i have another one next week in ohio. i agree with you that with the literature and the social media, and i have been through it myself, that heightens the risk of domestic-based extremism. tools of massrn violence through literature like what you're just reference. our engagements. we are stepping it up. the attorney general announced earlier this week a pilot project focused on three cities. we are all the disappointing end. -- we are all participating in. >> thank you.
>> director? >> i would like to add on the enforcement side that we are in every community in this country through our joint terrorism task force to work with our partners to define these people and lock them up. that is before they can harm somebody. we are trying to make sure that we are touching communities of interest. that we are in an online way seeing what is going on so that we can spot folks, ssn, and take them out of action if they are a threat. as we discussed, in a country this big, this free, with the material that is available, it can be a challenge for us. if they are sophisticated in their social media. it makes it very difficult. >> they are very sophisticated in their social media. it makes it very difficult. director olson? >> a fundamental tenet of the strategy that we work on together is that the neighborhoods and communities that are at risk, they are in the best position to identify
those undergoing radicalization. an important part of the effort is to give them the tools, education, and knowledge. those magazines like you dish it can influence individual. to be a little work with state and local law enforcement communities and federal law enforcement communities to intervene when somebody is on that path. >> thank you. i recognize the ranking member. >> thank you. , there havehnson been comments made relative to isil making attempts to enter from our southern border. can you for the sake of this whether --nd a kate indicate whether or not there is any evidence of that happening or if anybody has been captured trying to enter our southern border. ? >> congressman, we see no specific intelligence or
evidence to suggest at present that isil is attempting to infiltrate this country through our southern border. i am sure that my intelligence colleague could add to that. having said that, we do need to be vigilant. we do need to be aware of the risks of potential infiltration by isil or any other terrorist group. we have tools in place to monitor that and to do that. >> thank you. mr. olson? >> yes, i agree with secretary johnson. there has been a very small number of sympathizers who have posted messages on social media about this. we have seen nothing to indicate that there is any sort of operational effort or plot to
infiltrate or move operatives from isil into the united states through the southern border. >> thank you. director? >you talk about cyber security new real of the threats. this committee has on a bipartisan basis came together and has promoted what we think is one of the solutions to thatss the vulnerabilities exist. can you just enlighten the committee a little more on where you see some of those cyber hreats coming from? >> thank you, mr. thompson for they come from everywhere. something like an evil
layer cake with nationstates at the top, terrorist groups, international criminal syndicates, activists, thoughts, criminals, shot abusers, and pedophiles. because the whole world is on the internet, because our world is where every kind of bad person that you can imagine, that is with a threat is. >> thank you. mr. secretary, as you know that legislation would have given dhs the resources and authorities that it needs to perfect and networks andian critical infrastructure. do you see that type of legislation being important as we look at this or nobility? >> for a much so. -- very much so.
i appreciate your leadership in this regard. i am aware that the bill that came out of this community passed the full house. -- this committee passed the full house. i believe it is critical. i wrote an op-ed recently on the importance of cyber security legislation. there israel bipartisan support in the house and senate for cyber security legislation did i think it is critical to our national security. >> thank you. mr. olson, with respect to to the extentism, that you can give information in this kind of setting, and you seen any difference in the recruitment and sophistication of isis or isil in comparison to other terrorist groups? >> i would say that what we have seen from isil is a very
sophisticated rock again to effort. the types of information they are putting out on the internet in particular using social media really exceed the types of propaganda that we seen from other groups. certainly that effort has been quite a sophisticated and extensive. i think that we still -- it to be seen the impact of that information on potential recruits. is thet i can point to number of foreign fighters. this there is a significant number of foreign fighters that have traveled to syria. then, many of those joining isil ranks. from that perspective, it is obviously a concern that the propaganda is having an impact. point, with respect to bond extremism and how we , that is something
you see our allies doing that maybe we should adopt as we look at how we as a country address that here? with -- inrk coronation with our allies, including the united kingdom, which has a strong program countering violent extremism. we can learn from their lessons. they have had a little more experience with it than we have. our teams at fbi and dhs interact regularly with our u.k. colleagues to identify ways to improve our efforts in this regard. >> thank you. you'll back, mr. chairman. >> we recognize the man from new york. me join you in welcoming the witnesses.
it has been a privilege to work with you. thank you for what you have done. secretary johnson, you get the ground running. i want to thank you for that. important to remind people, even in new york, of the constant terrorist threat we face. it does show the cooperation that is needed among all the counterterrorism forces in our country. you have mentioned that is not just ices, but it is also the different threats we have to face. one group, and i am only mentioning this because it was in the media, his or anything you can tell us regarding that. ? if not, i understand. >> the discussion of specific organizations should be left to a classified setting.
>> ranking member thompson ask a question about working with our allies. oft are the plus and minuses prime mr. cameron's proposal that passport should be taken away from people who traveled to syria. what are the plus and minuses from your perspective of taken with her passports? >> thank you, mr. king. that is probably a question better answer by secretary johnson. quickly, it is of interest to us. i have met with the home secretary to try and understand better how that is working for them. among the concerns that i would have is what is the due process that would come with that in the united ace. how would i protect sources and methods? how would we be able to use the information to make a showing that it would be necessary? i'm interested in the tool that might help us identify and incapacitate these people. i would want to understand the
details of the better. >> what would be the advantages of allowing them back into the country and monitoring them? is that too risky? >> we do it on a case-by-case basis. sense.es it makes under limited circumstances, we let them in, cover them closely to see who they connect with. sometimes it makes sense to have them come back in the country and lock them up right away. it is hard to say. in the abstract. i agree with the fbi director passportsnsion of should be considered on a case-by-case basis. the state department has the authority to suspend passports. suspension andt revocation of passports can be done next decided days -- expedited basis. in a matter of hours or days. it is not necessarily need to be a lengthy process.
given the current environment, that we need to seriously consider limiting the ability of certain individuals to travel. either to go from one foreign country to another or from our country to another country. >> director olson? >> i think this was touched on by the chairman. about aerned are you rivalry between core al qaeda and isis as far as to get themselves back in the headlines, to reestablish themselves as the number one ?errorist force >> i am very concerned about that. petitionups are income with one another for attention, fundraising, recruitment. showay to compete is to
that you are the biggest and baddest group out there. i think that the environment we are in now presents additional challenges. i agree with the premise in your question. director olson? >> i agree with secretary johnson. i think there is this concern about competition among these groups. one particular example of this would be that the recent announcement by al qaeda core of the new affiliate in the subcontinent. that was announced on social media on september 3. it could be viewed as an effort by core al qaeda to reassert its supremacy. sorts of efforts can be viewed in the context of white need -- might be an emerging competition between groups. it is logic of compelling. you're not going to be the legal
and a global jihad without striking america. a drive that sense of competition my colleagues have talked about. >> the chair recognizes mr. jackson lee. >> i too would like to thank the chairman and ranking member for this hearing. i would also like to thank each of the presenters, members of the panel, for your service to the nation. having served on this committee from the beginning of the recovery. when the select committee on homeland security was first formed to create this department. i know how important the issues that all of you gentlemen are speaking of art to the nation and the security of america. even init is important, this meeting, to hold up the constitution, to tell all of a maliciousuld have intent towards united states that we will not sacrifice our values, our liberty, our
commitment to equality and justice for their terroristic ways. i think all of you for recognizing that we are not here islam or the muslim people. we are here to ensure this security and safety v9 states of america. it is to say that important to note from an that indicated that the beginare the idea of isil in 2006, long before president obama, before the american
withdrawal from -- that had at that time popular backing. let me be very clear. i believe that our president has been very effective in trying to both downsize and bring down the and is well addressed the national security of the american people. i will not vote for an authorization for war. we cannot talk about isil without doing something. i will vote today for ensuring , in thisr fighters ,nstance, the free syrian army is will trying to do the job. that means that we here in the united states much -- must be very sure about what we're doing to protect the homeland. secretary johnson, would ask a follow-up question on my , mr. thompson. coming from texas, do you feel that you have sufficient federal resources on the border to, if
there was such an intrusion, that your staffing between the border patrol, intelligence, working with your colleagues, do you believe that you have the necessary resources? todayhave more resources than we have had at any time previously. over the last several years, we at the southwest border an unprecedented level of resources, in terms of people, technology, vehicles, and other equipment. as you know, i am sure congresswoman, apprehension have gone down. they have gone up this year because of the spike in the rio grande valley sector. but we could use more. the bill passed by the senate last year, 744, would have gone a long way to provide additional
resources and personnel. that is for the southwest border. >> thank you. i wanted to be clear, if i could. i do support that legislation. i would rather have the federal resources than unpaid national guard that is been put down by the state of texas. let me quickly ask a question for all of you. we know that we have been acted all of us have been hacked. the question is are you able to discern the sanction between the identity thief hackers and that of the state hackers that are coming in as terrorists on the cyber security grids? could you all answer that question? of this nation are seemingly targets of recruitment for isil. women coming from western , arens, maybe uneducated
we having a special target to recognize the concerns for the women and how he would stop that? if three of you could answer that. >> congresswoman let me begin with the question on cyber. we face cyber threats from a range of different types of actors. i think we do a pretty good job -- andecting been indicating the type of actor for each specific attack. it is a range from private .ndividuals to others i will refer to my colleagues. >> i agree with secretary johnson. asis increasingly difficult they get increasingly sophisticated in their techniques. job of reasonably good sorting them out. with respect to the recruitment of women, you are right. there is a targeted effort by isil to attract spouses of fighters, given the
nature of their orient tation. they're trying to attract them from all over the west to start families in their warped world. >> i would only act to what director comey said about the recruitment of women as being the most barbaric aspects of what isil has done in the iraq. it is a huge concern to us. if i may add, ms. jackson lee, you held up the constitution in today's constitution day and i uld say that the director -- held a swearing in for those of us who reaffirm our commitment to the constitution with the workforce. i thay reflects the commitment ithin nctc and the broader intelligence community to our fidelity to the constitution. >> i believe i asked for
unanimous consent for this. but i'd also ask for unanimous consent which i look to refer to the chairman's review h.r. 5488, which is legislation that is called no fly for foreign fighters. it doesn't tie your hands but it refines the watch list to make sure that everyone that should be on it is on it, particularly since the foreign fighter concept is continuing to grow. i ask unanimous consent to introduce that into the work and it forward to discussing with you gentlemen. > thank you, mr. chairman. over 100 americans have joined isil. do we know how many americans have actually joined isil as well as other terrorist organizations around the world? any of you can give me a number?
>> i want to be very clear about the numbers, if i may, congressman? so we estimate over 100 americans have traveled to syria to enjoin with extremists groups in syria or at least attempted to travel. >> so you don't know a number of who actually joined, is that correct? >> once in syria it's very difficult to discern what happens there. >> do you know who they are who have joined or traveled to certify yaw or traveled to pakistan or other places around the world? do we know who those people actually are? >> with severing -- savaring degrees we have information about whether they travel to syria or other cases. >> we're going back to passports. the state department has said they are not going to revoke passports on americans that fly to syria and fly to these different places. if we know who those people are,
i think it's an outright security threat not to revoke their passports. certainly i believe in due process but i think we can do this. it's a huge security threat if we don't revoke their passports. we already know that t.s.a. is allowed known terrorists that are on the no fly list actually to get on-air craft in america and that prents a huge security threat to america. next question, we've got cities in the state of california that have declared themselves as being sanctuaries for illegal entrance in this country. do y'all see this kind of philosophy of cities or a state being a security risk to our nation? secretary? >> i guess i'd answer it this way, we have a pretty good
ability through law enforcement intelligence, homeland security means to identify individuals, including undocumented, who are people of suspicion, suspected terrorists. and the f.b.i. proves that time and again. i do think that in any situation where there are a large number of people who are undocumented, there's a risk that it hinders our ability to track those individuals, which is why from my homeland security perspective, ide want to see those people come forward and get on the books so that i know who they are. and if what you're suggesting is that the risk to homeland security grows when there are larger numbers of undocumented people in any one place, in any crowded area, i can't disagree with that. > we know that we've got a
forced border particularly on the southwest. we already know as your department of secretary describes we have the mexicans crossing the border that we have apprehended. we don't know how many people have not been apprehended, would you agree with that statement, yes or no? >> we generally believe that we have an ability to calculate total attempts to cross the border illegally, and apprehensions are a large percentage of that. and it runs between somewhere between 70% and 90%. so we have a sense for who we didn't get who has crossed the border. >> let me apologize for interrupting you. do we know how many syrians or pakistanians or iranians or somalians or others who have crossed the border? >> in a broad sense. there's obviously legal
migration and there are obviously a large number of people who travel from those countries for legitimate means through lawful means and so i think we have a pretty good sense of the nationalities of who come through this country both through legal -- >> i think this increases our security threat too because of these terrorists being able to fly into this country on the visa waiver program. i think we need, mr. chairman, to look at that. one final question. some americans say that isil and what's going on in syria and iraq today are just involved in a local civil war. what would y'all say it them as far as the threat that this poses to our own interests here in this country? if i could get all three of you to respond to that. >> i'll start. congressman, i think that isil represents a huge threat to our
interests. it represents a potential threat to our homeland security. it represents a threat to the stability in the region and it obviously represents a threat to americans in the region and they've demonstrated the willingness to kill americans because they are americans. and as the chairman and others have pointed out, they've acquired territory. we have to be very concerned any time any terrorist organization acquires territory or training for launching attacks and we're determining to take the fight to this group. >> judge comey, would you comment, please. >> i agree with what secretary johnson said. i wish it was in a case somewhere -- in a box halfway around the world but it's not. >> i would add there's certainly no lack of understanding within our departments and agencies or within the intelligence community of the nature of the threat the group poses.
>> thank you so much. my time has expired. >> given the limited time we have with our witnesses, i'm going to hold witnesses very strictly to the five minutes rule. next we have mr. barber who is not here. paine.pain he's next to me. >> you changed seats. thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, recently there have been news reports that have claimed thousands of foreign students have overstayed their visas and have disappeared. however, the department of homeland security has done a great job in their own data appears to show that while these cases were initially flags for review, the location of these students was in fact known by d.h.s. field officers.
as my -- it is my understanding that there are many reasons why a record might be flagged as a potential overstay, none of which are reasons to expect dangerous activity. for active -- for example, d.h.s. own press office has stated many cases appear to be closed due to a variety of legal reasons, including the student's receipt of a green card or departure from the united states. for generations, american foreign policy leaders have agreed to educational exchanges are one of the most successful foreign policy tools. eight of the nobel peace prize winners since 1987 have been foreign students educated in the united states, and america needs friends and understanding around the world more than ever. and educating young people here
gives us a great opportunity to develop those ties for future world leaders. therefore, we need to understand how the department manages the student visa program. can you discuss what the procedure and the systems d.h.s. uses to monitor foreign students? because i want to make sure that we do not distract the american people from the real threats that we're currently facing by mischaracterizing foreign students. >> congressman, given the nature of student visas, we have to depend to a very large degree on what the universities tell us about whether the individual is still a student, still seeking an education in this country. as you referenced, there have been a number of individuals who have overstayed their student visas. this is something i looked into,
taking a special interest in. i believe that there are a number of vulnerabilities in our ability to track these individuals that are being addressed , a number of gaps aren't being closed. we looked into the number of those who are reportedly overstaying their visas. we have found that a very large fraction have either been arrested or have returned to their countries or are in compliance to the receipt of green cards. there is a fraction of that population where they're still -- there's still open investigations. but i don't have the exact numbers offhand but a very large number of those who were initially individuals of concern, we have found are either in compliance or have returned. but there's still open investigations on some. so i think we're doing a better job of tracking these individuals and i totally agree with what you said about the importance of the student visas and the importance of educate --
receiving an education. >> thank you. because, you know, i saw a report where they used a number of 6 0,000 which abvute -- 60,000 which was ridic -- ridiculous and absurd and it appears the number is more losely to 6,000. seist has been narrowing that number consistently is that correct? >> that is correct. of the 6,000 you refer to, we have found that a large number are either in compliance or have returned or have been arrested. there's still a number -- i don't have the number offhand -- but there's still a number that's a fraction of that 6,000 that are under investigation. but i believe most of them are are either in compliance, have been arrested or returned. >> ok. thank you. and i will yield back. >> gentleman from pennsylvania. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and director comey, i appreciate your focus on the issue of
technology. i enjoyed your anecdote about the fact your sneakers may tell your fridge that you went to a ride or your sneakers could tell your wife that you went to the fridge. i do appreciate your leadership on the technology front and i'm struck by your concept, your o. after 10 years, seeing the dramatic change and the metastasize as you identify in the cyberdomain. we see the warfare being in this cybercapacity. one of our former colleagues lee hamilton who observed this same phenomenon in 2001 came back and testified that he sees the cyberthreat as even greater than the collective threat coming from isil. we know about the use of the radicalization and the recruitment that has been done. we've seen more sophisticated
attacks from iranians that have been tied to denial of services of our banks. we've seen criminal gangs use the internet for creation of ways in which they can do things like extortion and to raise revenues and i'm genuine concerned about the ability to purchase expertise out there in the worldwide domain from people that may not be directly associated but can be hired to conduct activities. and there's some concern that even a certain point the kind of islamic jihad could be tied back to isil with cyberattacks of government organizations, energy companies, transport systems, banks, things of that nature. in light of that, looking specifically at isil, what do you think the cyberdimension of the cyberthreat that isil creates? >> thank you,. i remember fondly our time working together. thank you for caring so much about these issues.
think it does transforms all of the things we're responsible for. i see isil focus most on using the internet cyberspace to recruit, both through peer to peer communications to try to lure people to come fight for them. but as also as the chair said through their very slick propaganda efforts to energize and train would be fighters. i know this is something nctc has spent a lot of time on as well. >> have you seen something, mr. lsen, with regard to there's a growing compet competency threat from isil? >> at this point i would characterize it it as basically as -- as operational in terms of
asperational. the primary concern about cyberright now is the use of internet to recruit and track followers. >> director johnson, or secretary johnson, you may feel kohl fortable in commenting on that. but i want to thank must remaining minute to thank you for your leadership and close cooperation with this committee as we have worked to structure new legislation that would enhance the ability for the agencies across the board to better prepare to be responsive of this growing technological threat. can you tell me -- r -- i know you support it -- but can you tell me why you believe this legislation is critical to the enhancement of your mission and why it's so critical that we react in a timely fashion on this? >> congressman, thank you for your leadership in this area. i think it's critical. there are several reasons why i
believe legislation in this area is important, one, to codify the authority of d.h.s. to act in the .governor world. there is legal uncertainty about our -- about our ability to protect the .gov world. there are statutes that some would interpret to inhibit our ability to protect the .gov world. so the existing statutory landscape needs clarity in order for us to do our job. we know also that in the private sector there are those who are concerned about their legal authority to share information with the government. they're concerned about their potential civil liability if they share information with the government, if they act in response to the government. and we're also looking to enhance our authority to hire cybertalent. but one of my immediate concerns, which i know you're
focused on, is clarity in terms of helping us police the .gov world and this is something we've got to do on a daily basis. we face attacks on a daily basis, not just a cybersecurity threat anymore. >> i thank you again for your leadership, particularly the promotion of the ncic as the kind of junction through which a lot of this activity can take place and how vital it is. i yield back. >> thanks for your leadership on cyber. secretary, your strong support and the administration's support for passage in the submit as well. chair recognizes mr. higgins. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first on the isil numbers, about five weeks ago in published reports it was estimated to be 7,000 and 11,000 isil fighters. the most recent c.i.a. report puts the evment mitt -- estimate
at 31,000. i'm wondering if that distinction is a result of bad number aanalysis or rapid recruitment success on the part of isil? >> the current assessment is their strength is anywhere between 20,000 and approximately 31,000, 31 k. 500, that obviously demonstrates what we're talking about is an approximation with a large range. we have limited intelligence on this question, and that's by virtue of the fact that our ability to collect on this question is limited in syria and in iraq. but the increase in that number does also reflect some of the recent gains that the group has made through its battlefield successes and its recruitment efforts particularly in iraq. so it's both the change reflects our limited intelligence
collection, but also the gains the group has made more recentlyly -- renl. >> since the commencement of air strikes, have those numbers dropped? because i think part of the military strategy there is to stop the isis momentum because that more than anything else is probably the most potent recruitment advantage that isis has. >> what we've seen from the intelligence perspective is certainly the air strikes have had an impact on the military momentum of isil. it's had an impact on the battlefield. i think it's too soon to tell how those strikes will affect the overall number of isil fighters or their ability to attract people to join the ranks. >> so the estimate of future recruitment in terms of isil members is open and unknown?
>> that's right. how it will look in a year or more from now at this point is a question that we -- >> you know, it's hard to know where this is going because nobody saw it coming. fanned we saw it coming we potentially could have acted earlier to hold its progress. and we know that 15,000 foreign fighters traveling to syria, 2,000 of which are from europe and the united states begins to bring this closer to home. isil is younger than al qaeda. it's more aggressive. it's more brutal. it's better at raising money. it's more technologically sophisticated. and this poses the major problem. you know, my district alone, last year there was a terror plot to blowup a passenger plane that was thwarted that was going through niagara falls and two
individuals were indicted and thought to have al qaeda affiliation. in 2003, six home-grown terrorists were convicted of providing materials support to al qaeda after having traveled through afghanistan and participated in al qaeda training camp s. and just yesterday in rochester, new york, about 50 miles from my district, a man was indicted for attempting to provide material support to isil, attempting to kill u.s. soldiers and for possession of firearms and silencers. be think people shouldn't alarmed but i think the growth of isil, our inability -- we have the strategy that it's not full -- full proof. it depends on people who we have not demonstrated any confidence
in brrks the free syrian army, and all of the thousands of militias that make that up. this is a major concern. and i saw in the secretary's statement there were five things the department of homeland of security is doing, including aviation safety and a number of other thicks. that's fine. but i think the threat of isil to the american homeland is much -- it's more substantial than we're willing to acknowledge. the idea is not to alarm anybody but to prepare for what is a very, very serious situation that is metastasizing in that part of the world and they're not going to stop in eastern syria or northwestern iraq. they have a goal and it's very specifically defined. the borders in that part of the world, these people have no appreciation for historically because they have nothing to do with it. they're looking to upend the
entire middle east earn region and want to claim it for themselves. i yield back. >> gentleman's time has expired. >> i want to thank mr. higgins for his comments as well. thank you, gentlemen, for your service to our nation. you have an immense challenge ahead of you. we all recognize that and we support it where we can. having a dialog about the global threats to safety and security is very important not only for law enforcements and policymakers but also the american people. i want to comment about secretary johnson, you mentioned whether you use a broad spectrum and whether it's broad or narrow, the fact is we have no idea who's in our country or what their intent is. one side of the political spectrum really wants to paint a
rosy picture we have a secure border but the fact is americans realize that we don't. and we also i think americans are counting on us in this arena to transened politics in order to keep the bad elements out of our country to work to keep another 9/11 from happening. they expect you guys to transcend politics and focus on keeping us safe. i grew up in the cold war and at that time we were as a nation tracking troop movements of the soviets, tank placements, surface and subsurface ships and where they may be across the country -- across the globe. now we're tracking individuals, foreign fighters who may have left our country or europe and travel to syria to fight jihad who may have been radicalized who may have the ability to travel back to their country and may have the ability to come here. in june i was in brussels and before we got to brussels a
foreign fighter had traveled to syria, was radicalized, made his way back through turkey and germany. germany actually knew about this individual, failed to let the belgiums know, he went into brussels and shot up a museum, at least three if not four individuals lost their lives. he tried to flee through france and was caught at the bus stop with the very weapons he used to commit the crime. we're relying on information sharing as we try to track individuals, foreign fighters as they travel around the world. it's an immense challenge as i mentioned earlier. we heard earlier about the 100 or so americans that have gone to fight with isis, but we also have somali americans who have traveled to fight, we've got bokeo harme, al qaeda, wherever they may be. don't take your eyes off al qaeda as we focus on isis
because it is still a threat. the thing i want to question about this morning is a it is unclassified now. n internal memo. the traditional f.b.i. lanes and it goes on to talk about mission creek by homeland security investigations is an issue in a alarming number of field offices. i appreciate the director of f.b.i. saying that's really not an issue. but what i want to point out is d.h.s. was stood up in 2003 to recognize after recognizing the stove piping of information. the laws are barriers of sharing information between agencies that possibly could have thwarted the 9/11 hijackings. i go back to the comments i made
earlier about germany failing to let belgium know about about a foreign fighter who traveled through their country who ended up killing some folks at a jewish museum. we cannot afford to have these type of turf wars between agencies charged with keeping us safe. so how, director, how do you combat that? how do you keep that mission creed issue from being an issue? and i would love to hear from secretary johnson on how he feels about that. >> thank you, mr. duncan. by talking about it constantly that report made my head explode. so i shared that head explosion with every leader in the f.b.i. to let them know how i think about it. the f.b.i. does nothing alone to protect the american people. there's no other way to do it. the american taxpayers should have no patience for turf battles. i got none. >> director, i appreciate
y'all's communication, i'm concerned about communication where the rubber meets the road and that's where the communication need to happen. if you got turf wars i'm afraid the information may not be shared appropriately. >> i visited now 44 of my 56 field offices. i talk about it everywhere i go it make sure i'm shaping the culture in a right way and i think that's a exception what's reflected in that particular news account. i think we have made tremendous progress in 13 years and we will keep working on it. >> thank you. secretary. >> congressman, just yesterday director comey and i got together to talk about cybersecurity to ensure that our organizations are working together effectively on cybersecurity. we both have a role in cybersecurity, along with other agencies. and so one of our challenges is to make sure that what you refer to doesn't happen because that doesn't do any good for the american people for our
government, for the taxpayers to see us engaged in turf wars. so we have committed to setting the example at the top and instilling that example in the rank and file in our leadership. so on cybersecurity, for example, we get together routinely to talk about what is our framework, are we getting it right, are we having any turf battles? so all three of us i think, and i think i speak for our respective organizations and our respective communities are committed to working together. i think it does depend a lot on the personalities at the top committing to work together. the last thing i'll say is your comment about d.h.s., in the nine months i've been in office, i have seen the advantage of having the components within my department together in one conference table. when we were dealing with the situation in the southwest border this summer in the rio grande valley, i could put
together at my conference table cvp, i.c.e., the coast guard to seen the - i've synergies of putting a lot of these components together in one department. the thrust of your comment i very much agree with it. >> i'm glad it's working. i'm glad you're communicating with all of your elements. we need to learn from the 9/11 commission report. the reason we combated the stove piping sharing of information, americans are counting on you guys. thank you so much and god blesses you. i yield back. >> chair recognizes mr. orork. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i join my colleagues who said earlier there's perhaps no way the american public can know each of you and the men and women who work with you have done to protect this country. we o we e our thanks and i want
to let you know how much we appreciate it. secretary johnson, i appreciate you setting the record straight on terrorist threats to the homeland from our border with mexico. and i could not agree more with you that despite our success thus far, that there have not been any terrorist plots connected to the southern border, that there's no evidence that isis is preparing to infiltrate the united states at the southern border, i couldn't agree with you more than that this is something we need to guard against, continue to use all of our resources as warranted by the threat that exist based on the evidence that we find. i also appreciate you answering my colleague's question about whether or not we have sufficient resources on the southern border. we're spending $18 billion a year. we have 20,000 border patrol agents. the vast majority are on the
southern border today. those are double the numbers that we saw five or six or seven years ago. as you mentioned, the number of apprehensions is at a record low level. we saw 1.6 million apprehensions 15 years ago on the eve of 9/11. this year with the spike in rio grande valley, i think it's going to be right at about half a million at the highest. in el paso sector, the community i represent, the average agent apprehended 4.2 migrants or crossers this last year, 4.2 per agent. now, that number does not reflect the deterrent value that those agents have. i think there's a lot to be said for that. but you also said earlier that while we have sufficient federal resources there, we could use more. you mentioned the senate proposal which i think was to add another 20,000 agent on -- agents on the border. i'm concerned when we know the
greatest risk is at our airports, we talked about home-grown terrorists that we are obsessively focusing on the southern border. again, let's remain vigilant but we have finite resources. we should apply them where we have the greatest threats based on established risks that we've been able to determine. let me get your thoughts on ha comment. >> most people would endorse the notion of a risk-based strategy to homeland security, border security, aviation security. we focus resources where we believe the risk exist. it's an effective efficient use of taxpayer dollars. in aviation security, for example, we made the judgment to vill the t.s.a. precheck program where we focus resources on the population we know less about. and the border patrol experts that i've talked to also endorse that approach.
and so with additional personnel, additional boots on the ground on the border comes surveillance technology, the ability to monitor what's going on on the southwest border to know where the threat areas are because they do migrate. they do move around. we had a challenge this summer in south texas and so i continually with our border patrol personnel look at where are the threat areas, how it has evolved and so in my judgment in response to your question i think that a risk-based strategy is appropriate and i think the technology, more technology, more surveillance is the key to our future for border security. >> just following on your comments, my colleague sought analogy in previous conflicts to apply to this threat from terrorists who might want to enter the homeland. i also think about the french on
the eve of world war ii and the obsession with the line -- we are going to somehow how -- solve a threat posed to this country. i think we have to be far more creative and be rigorous and disciplined about applying resources to where those threats are or where they could be based on established risks. last question to you, mr. secretary, there is a southern boreder and approaches campaign plan through d.h.s. some have compared this to a uth come type effort against organize resources against a threat. can you describe that? >> first of all, going back to your previous question, i think i speak for my colleagues when i say none of us want to -- none f us downplay or underestimate
the risk or the concern of a terrorist or terrorist organization infiltrating our homeland. i mean that is probably our primary concern day-to-day when we go to work every day. and it's something we have to continually be vigilant about. southern campaign plan is in development. i expect to be in a position to announce some things in the month of october concerning the southern campaign plan and it is in effort to more strategically bring to bear all the resources of my department onboarder -- onboarder -- on border sec uret n a way that is strategic with how we use all the resources in our department. >> thank you. >> chair roses mr. -- >> thank you.
secretary johnson, i want to thank you particularly for the dw good work the men and women are dog at homeland security. i can tell the production and response of congress in terms of responding to our letters and inquiries is the difference. i cannot tell you how much better it is and i thank you and the people who work on those. i do appreciate it. secretary -- >> i'd like the responses but you're getting them fast. >> thank you. true. since you took office, secretary johnson, on -- secretary johnson on december 23rd, are you aware of any apprehensions of suspected or known terrorists who are trying to come to our country illegally? >> that's an important question. attempting to come to this country? who -- >> who came across our border illegally. did you ever apprehend anybody who was a known terrorist, a suspected terrorist, somebody who had ties to a terrorist
organization? >> sitting here right now, no specific case comes to mind. .hat doesn't mean there is none perhaps director comey can think of one. sitting here right now none comes to mind but that doesn't mean there isn't one, nor does that mean there's no investigation of one either. >> my concern is i have a reason to believe that on september 10 there were four individuals who who were trying to cross the texas border who were apprehended it at two different stations who have known ties to the middle east. are you not aware of that? >> i've heard reports to that effect. i don't know the accuracy of the reports or how much credence to give them, but i've heard reports to that effect. >> i guess that's my concern is you as the secretary does that information rise to the level of the secretary -- let me give you
some of the reasons i'm concerned about what's going on in the southwest border. this is an internal document of yours. ile it was noted there was 466,000 apprehensions over the ast 351 days, we also have 157 backs,e had several turn but one of the other things that's fascinating is the sensors that are found there primarily throughout the southwest, we had just under five million sensor hits in fiscal year 2013. but in fiscal year 2014, we have now more than six million of those hits. now, we've got wild burros and tortoises and animals there's a lot of false positives there. but the concern is if you look at the apprehensions, we've
apprehended people from 143 different countries, 143 countries acoording to the internal statistics, 13 were from syria, six were from iraq, four were from iran and the list goes on to 143 different countries. the men and women who work on our southwest border they do an amazing job. but to suggest we have operational control of the border, help they -- me understand this. you said there was a 70% to 90% success rate? explain to me what that is. >> when you look at what we believe to be total attempts to ross the border illegally, the estimated rate of those who make the attempt of those who are apprehended is somewhere between 70% and 90% and it varies in time. >> previously the gal had indicated there was only a six%
control of the border. what is the operational control of the bodder at this time? >> i don't have that number offhand. i do agree with you that the challenge of those coming from countries other than memory ko, particularly into the rio grande valley sector, is one i'm very concerned about. it's something that i've been concerned about since i took office in january. i've seen it myself at our detention center in brownsville when i visited there in january there was something like 80 nagsaltses -- nationalities of illegals present there. >> i've got to interrupt you to a yes or no question. a 983 president reagan put prohibition on libyan nationals to get certified in aviation and nuclear sciences, myself and the
judiciary chairman introduced a piece of legislation that would keep that prohibition in place. there's been a process going through your offices and through the administration to actually reverse that prohibition that was put in place in 1983 that now sits on your desk. what is your view of listing that prohibition? >> i do not intend to lift that prohibition at this time. i don't believe legislation to prevent me from lifting is -- it is necessary. i do not intend to lift it at this time. >> i appreciate it. yield back. thank you. >> chair recognizes mr. -- >> thank you, chair. 13 years ago i was a congressional intern here in this town when september 11th happened. i watched with great interest our country's response to september 11th and i watched the creation, mr. secretary, of your department.
and this committee become a full standing committee. and now i think what we are experiencing with the rise and spread of isil in the middle east and our efforts to respond to it is exactly why this department was created. and so first i just want to thank you, mr. secretary, the two directors for the work you do every day to answer to these challenges to keep us safe here at home. because while we are going to consider today what offensive measures we may take abroad, the critical component i'm most concerned about is what are we doing here at home? and so i want to get out of the way something that my colleague from texas alluded to. mr. secretary, do we have any everyday of any of the following groups coming across our southern border? sil? >> we have no specific intelligence that members of isil are crossing into the
united states on our southern border. >> how about -- >> director olsen can comment more specifically. >> i'll go one by one. how about hezbollah, yes or no? >> same answer. >> how about alneutra? >> i believe the answer is the same but i want to refer to my intelligence colleague here in terms of any assessments of the current environment. >> may i also ask, in addition to not stopping anyone or interacting with anyone or -- who's not a member of these groups, would it be safe to say that the intelligence community has not collected any information and there's various means and methods it uses to collect information and there are efforts under way to use the southern border to go into the united states? >> i think if that's true certainly with respect to your
first question, isil. we've seen chatter from sympathizers about that question, but we've seen nothing to indicate any effort to enter the united states through the southwest border by isil. >> i was in jordan, egypt, morocco and israel two weeks ago and met with our state department teams and our allies over there. my greater fear is not the southern border, but we were told about the number of americans who are over in syria and iraq fighting shoulder to shoulder with isil as well as the number of westerners who are over there. i was hoping that you could elaborate on what we are doing to disrupt any plans of theirs to return to the united states and carry out with the tools and hate that they've built and developed abroad. >> congressman, we've made enhanced efforts to track these individuals within the viryause communities of the u.s.
government. as you heard me mention, we have enhanced our aviation security measures. we are making enhanced efforts. we've stepped up our dialog with our allies, with our partners there. the president will share a u.n. security council -- he will chair a council next week on the topic of foreign fighters. we are considering a number of things of things that will give us more information from passengers from visa waiver countries so that we know more about individuals who attempt to travel. there's always law enforcement. i believe the f.b.i. does a terrific job from the law enforcement perspective from investigating and arresting people who attempt to join terrorist organizations who attempt to leave the country. i believe our allies also understand the nature of this threat and are making enhanced efforts as well. >> and with the number of foreign fighters coming into
yria and iraq, i have asked, mr. secretary, we really expedite the number of visa waiving countries who are participating in interpols in stolen and lost passports. back in the spring the malaysian airlines, two passengers had boarded that flight with lost or stolen passports. i think now more than ever we need to make sure we know and have these other countries to report to interpol. if you could update us briefly. >> we've been having that dialog with our allies and i think they understand the nature of that issue. >> great. and thank you again to each of you for what you're doing to keep us safe and i yield back. >> when you say this committee is considering legislation to require visa waiving countries
to provide more data in exchange for that privilege. >> thank you, mr. chair. i don't know if we're making the argument here whether or not we should secure our southern border or not. that's the feeling i'm getting. there's been a lot of talk that if any terrorist, whether or not any terrorists have crossed the border illegally but we do necessity that those wishing to do us harm have manipulated in the past had our immigration to remain in the united states. one terrorist was a convicted perpetrator of the 1993 world trade center bombing received amnesty after he claimed to be an agricultural worker, despite being a cab driver in new york. the only thing he planted in america was a bomb. president obama told the
american people that he plans to grant some form of administrative amnesty to potentially millions of those currently in the country unlawfully. secretary johnson, as you make recommendations to the president, as to how he should implement such a program, how will you assure the american people that another terrorist will not slip through the cracks? >> congressman, i am very weused on knowing as much as can about individuals who are undocumented in this country, if an earned that path to citizenship were to become law, that would encourage people to come forward and submit to a background check so they can get on the bookeds -- books.
i know there's a lot debate about it. from any homeland security per sfect e inspective i want people who are living in this country undocumented to come forward and get on the books and subject themselveses to a background check so that i can know who they are. d whether it's the current daca program defered action or own r earned path to citizenship, from my perspective i want people to come forward -- >> secretary johnson, i've dealt with this as a mayor in my hometown. do we honest live believe that any would be terrorist or criminal or drug dealer is going to come forward to have a criminal background check on them or are they going to continue to remain underground? nobody with a criminal record is going to come forward. >> the more i can learn about the undocumented population in this country, the better. the more effectively we can use
our removal resources against the type of person you just described, the better. and so i'm interested in going after public safety national security threats in terms of our removal resources, and i want to have a system that more effectively gets it that population. >> do you think the terrorist would have come forward for a criminal background check in 1993? >> most criminals do not subject themselves to criminal background checks i agree with that. >> so he still would have planted the bomb in the world trade center. here, i eport i have we t was -- why haven't taken -- the very first line says enforcement of our immigration laws is a core commonecomponeent that according
to the commission up to 15 of the 19 hijackers could have been intercepted or deported through more diligent enforcement laws. why are we not picking up the recommendations. the 9/11 commission report so we don't have another attack again? > there are a number of 9/11 commitment recommendations that i wish with we could adopt. very plainly, enforcement of our immigration laws is a top priority of mine and with the resources that congress gives us we can and we should do an effective job of going after those who makes a threat to our safety >> and the discussion we've had in the past -- >> i agree with you -- >> -- somebody has crossed the border already that's a terrorist, nobody used a plane to crash into one of our buildings until the first time as well. that's not a good reason that we shouldn't secure the border because we believed that nobody
has crossed the border who who's a terrorist already. thank you. >> chair recognizes mr. kitting. >> mr. chairman, i want to thank all three of our witnesses for their services, particularly director olsen as you lead for your service. it's pretty clear -- also i want to thank particularly director comey for being here for the first time. i appreciate it and i think it's very important. it's clear from all your testimony that the number one threet remains, homegrown radicalized terrorists in our country. and that's something i think is heightened with the isil threat as well. there's a person that's on the most wanted list by the f.b.i. as a terrorist who went to school -- the same school that one of my children did and later
went to school just a few miles away from them. it's close to home. and when you look at these threats and you look at the different challenges and reminded of our work of the boston marathon and that -- bombing and that information including information sharing with lockal police is so important. and given dr. olsen's testimony about how isil has now become more sophisticated, it's harder to intercept messaging, that remains even more of a priority. so i'd like to ask director comey to share with the committee, the progress that you've made in terms of doing a better job sharing information with local police and also what progress is made in terms of formalizing that, too, in terms of a memorandum of understanding that can be there and transcend different administrations and the need, if any, for regulation of statutory change in that
regard. >> thank you, mr. keeting. for anyone who was asleep before 9/11 and woke up today would not recognize the depth and extent of information sharing among federal agencies and with our state and local partners. the world has transformed in that respect. i also believe we can find room for improvement. a number of things we have done since boston, we've made clear that we want the default to be information sharing and we don't want anything to be misunderstood as an impediment to that. we've also -- each of our joint terrorism task forces now has a regular meeting to review our inventory. what came in within the last 30 days or week or two weeks, what came in, what got closed, questions, concerns to make sure everybody e everybody is in sync
. i travel around the country and meet with state and local law enforcement now in 44 field offices and i'm hearing good things. i think we're in a good place, but i want to rest on that because there's always something i haven't thought of yet. i want to continue that dialog to improve it. >> one of the areas i found, local police now have access to classified information more than they did, but it's my understanding they're not taking advantage of that the way they can. is there something that we can do to help those numbers to make it easier for them or to encourage them to get more of that information? > i don't know than just encouraging. i'm encouraging all leadership to at least get the secret level clearance so that if you need to you can see things very, very quickly. and we're getting there. people are very, very busy and they also know that their officers and detectivives on